Brokeback Mountain and Loev: Reassessing My Notions Of Violence

Is emotional violence all that different from physical violence? Why is it that we can make our peace with the former?
Brokeback Mountain and Loev: Reassessing My Notions Of Violence

The news of the plagiarism of Loev's poster made me revisit the film and confront the moral morass I have been avoiding for a long time. Interestingly, it was another beautiful relationship drama, Brokeback Mountain, that gave me a clearer perspective. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain told the story of Jack and Ennis over the years. An unfortunate event in his early years made Ennis afraid to confront his honest self and this deeply affected his relationships with Jack, his wife and his daughters. Sudhanshu Saria's Loev is about Jai and Sahil and a weekend they spent together. From their conversations, we gather that they have known each other for a long time, they're probably childhood friends. The unsaid words and held back feelings escalate over the two days and end in a heartbreaking climax. At first glance, these are very different films. But these films made me question my beliefs about violence. The emotional violence in Brokeback Mountain and the physical violence in Loev led me to re-evaluate myself. The following is an attempt to articulate the confusions and revelations.

Is emotional violence all that different from physical violence? Why is it that we can make our peace with the former? Maybe this is a very personal feeling. I haven't talked to anyone about it. Emotional violence can be insidious. Physical violence is more in-your-face. Why do I not feel anger towards Ennis the way I do with Jai? What makes me try to understand his attitude but never Jai's actions? Somewhere I can empathise with Ennis despite the toll his behaviour took on Jack. I am not able to do that with Jai. What drove Jai towards what he did and what made Ennis blow hot and cold towards Jack for years may be very similar. Would I have found it equally difficult to reconcile with Jai if he had punched Sahil in the face and beat him instead of sexually assaulting him?

I find it difficult to use the word "rape" to describe what transpired between Jai and Sahil. It makes me recoil. And maybe it is the generations of notions associated with rape that makes me want to condemn Jai outright without even trying to understand him. Trying to understand Jai puts me in a moral quagmire. It messes up my notions of right and wrong. It makes me question what I see as violence. I don't know why Jai did that but it baffles me that a moment of violence from him made me look at him as unredeemable whereas I still believe that Ennis and Jack would have had a chance if Jack was alive.

I am not capable of physical violence. So I find it easy to condemn it without bothering about the nuances. The same is not the case with emotional violence. I am forced to look at the intricacies. Only then I can be at peace with myself. Understanding Ennis is, in a way, soothing parts of myself. Even as I am writing this, I am afraid it will be interpreted as me condoning emotional violence. I am not. I am just trying to understand. But a part of me refuses. I am used to boxing all kinds of physical violence together. It is wrong. That was all I knew. But Jai is making me re-evaluate. I know Jai. I have seen his other sides: his joy, his pain, his frustration, his despair. He is making me restless.

I don't know why I consider that moment that spiralled out of control along with those brutal rapes and unimaginable domestic violence whereas I have never thought about what Ennis did along with atrocious things like manipulation and gaslighting. To me, Ennis is a wounded man who ended up hurting the person whom he loved the most. He is someone who lost a good life because he was afraid to open up. Why don't I extend the same compassion to Jai?

I find physical violence unacceptable. I have realised that it is not because I am morally superior but just because I am not capable of it. Physical violence is alien to me. So I always looked at it in a detached way. It was human relationships that interested me and I found emotional violence a part of them. So I tried to understand its manifestations. I know that physical violence is a part of human relationships too. But to me, it only included constant abuse, which is an exploitation of powerlessness and the violence that society condones. But the violence of the kind that happened with Jai and Sahil was new to me. It was a moment that no one saw coming. Something that undermined everything. I didn't know how to react.

The first kind of physical violence is a direct result of the parochial notions, assumptions and prejudices of society. It points to the flaws within the institutions and the need for change. There is righteous anger when reacting to such violence and appropriately so. The second kind of violence, though influenced by societal notions (isn't everything?), is more personal. It was a result of pent-up emotions, refusals to open up, fear of vulnerability, insecurities and complexes. In more ways than not, it is similar to Ennis's behaviour.

It's been more than a year since I watched Loev. It took me this much time to finally confront my dilemma. The inertia to change our held notions is revelatory. I have become a bit more open. I have always complained that Jai doesn't speak to me. Only Sahil does. But it was because I never gave him a chance. Now I guess he will finally talk. I would understand him and myself a bit more the next time I watch Loev.

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